We're down to one team, yet again

Ques­tions sur­round foot­ball pro­grams head­ing into win­ter

The Covington News - - Sports - Josh Briggs Sports Edi­tor

In 2009, Newton County saw all three of its high school foot­ball teams make the play­offs. Newton, Al­covy and East­side went a com­bined 21-9. It truly was foot­ball fever this time last year. What a dif­fer­ence a year makes.

East­side is again the lone play­off rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the county. The Ea­gles have played at home the past two years dur­ing the play­offs and by virtue of their 21-14 win Fri­day over Henry County, will paint Sharp Sta­dium's field with the fa­mil­iar green and sil­ver yet again. It's fast be­com­ing a fall tra­di­tion.

If Newton and Al­covy want to join the fun year in and year out, they're go­ing to need to make some changes this off­sea­son. In my four years of cov­er­ing all three pro­grams, I have banked sev­eral ob­ser­va­tions. Here are just a few.

Both pro­grams need to make some coach­ing changes. Newton has a good core but I'm not im­pressed with some of the de­ci­sions I've seen and the way some of the coaches not only act around the play­ers, but carry them­selves as a whole. Tac­ti­cally speak­ing, I like what of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Camille Grant is do­ing. He's a guy who could have eas­ily been named the head coach in the wake of the Nick Collins fir­ing. Some of the po­si­tion coaches need to go though. Stand­ing on the side­lines dur­ing a game can be hard on the ears some­times. While I've been know to drop my fair share of F bombs, I don't around kids and I don't around peo­ple I know don't like it. I some­times ques­tion how some of these guys were ever hired in the first place. There's no way a teenager will re­spect you when you act like one.

Head coach Cortez Allen is a guy who has shown to have in­tegrity. And I don't think he wants this type of be­hav­ior per­me­at­ing the pro­gram ei­ther so look for some changes in the off­sea­son. When I pin­point one prob­lem from Newton this year it was the carry over from the Collins era. While I know Allen will standby his for­mer head coach, the at­ti­tude he brought the Newton's foot­ball pro­gram was a di­rect re­flec­tion of the prob­lems they've had. That's what Allen had com­ing into the sea­son so it was what it was. This is his team now so look for him to put his stamp on it.

Al­covy has to eval­u­ate its coach­ing staff too. While there is some tal­ent among the Tigers' coach­ing rank, there is also some dead weight. Can an of­fense that

runs trips right ever sin­gle play ever be a le­git­i­mate con­tender? Al­covy's play call­ing is more pre­dictable than dis­cov­er­ing Nancy Pelosi needs Vi­sine af­ter a visit to the op­tometrist. Or­ga­ni­za­tion also seems to be a prob­lem. I point to the loss to Jones County when the coaches were un­able to call a time­out to ice the kicker who even­tu­ally drilled the game win­ner. There was a break­down be­tween the staff and the play­ers. How else can you ex­plain why not a sin­gle de­fen­sive player saw the en­tire coach­ing staff yelling for a time­out?

Fi­nally, the county needs to set­tle on some bound­aries and de­cide whether they want to make Al­covy a four or five A school and when they are go­ing to build a sta­dium on cam­pus. Al­covy suf­fers more than the other schools from lo­ca­tion. If you put a sta­dium at the school, you may fi­nan­cially stim­u­late that part of the county. Maybe a fast food joint sprouts up. Next thing you know, you may have a small com­mu­nity out there.

If the county re­draws bound­aries ev­ery year and con­tin­ues to al­low stu­dents the choice of stay­ing or leav­ing, you're go­ing to keep per­pet­u­at­ing the sta­bil­ity prob­lem I al­ways seem to hear from coaches. Most high schools tra­di­tion­ally have one or two feeder mid­dle schools. And those mid­dle schools have feeder ele­men­tary schools. That's not the case in Newton County. Ev­ery­one shares. Al­covy draws its stu­dents from In­dian Creek and Vet­er­ans mid­dle schools while East­side re­ceives stu­dents from In­dian Creek and Cousins. Then you have Newton which draws from Vet­er­ans, Cle­ments and Cousins. Lib­erty kids go some­where but it's not clear where on the Newton County School Sys­tem web­site so who knows. The point is, coaches don't know who they are get­ting un­til the play­ers get into their schools. And if coaches don't have in­tegrity, it opens up the pos­si­bil­ity of re­cruit­ing.

There's no rea­son why Newton County can't have three play­off teams ev­ery year, es­pe­cially now. Ev­ery­one is in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion. Let's work on three home games in the open­ing round of the state play­offs. That's the best way to force the county into think­ing about an­other sta­dium. Un­til then, I can't blame the school sys­tem for con­cen­trat­ing on what it can do to qual­ify for Ti­tle 1 money. Which if and when that hap­pens, foot­ball will be an af­ter­thought.

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